PORTLAND, Ore. -- Next year, the West can expect slower growth and greater risks, U.S. Bank says in its annual economic forecast.

The bank's chief economist warned Tuesday that the aerospace, semiconductor and hardware booms have ended for now, and farmers will face difficult conditions. Utah will see outstanding employment growth, though wage and salary employment growth will slow to 3 percent in 1999 from 3.4 percent in 1998."The Western region is moving into 1999 in a national environment that has to be described as more uncertain," John Mitchell wrote.

The continuing Asian financial crisis, political turmoil abroad and an unstable stock market at home were cited as just some of the threats.

Is there an end in sight?

"I suspect '99 will be the bottom," Mitchell said.

Tuesday's report -- a draft -- listed Washington as the West's strongest state, but Mitchell said that would be revised in light of the recent layoffs of 48,000 workers at Boeing, the state's biggest employer.

Instead, Mitchell expects Oregon, Washington and Idaho to vie for the strongest economic performance in the final report to be released late this month.

The report looks at the economic conditions in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Northern California. Among the state-by-state highlights of the report:

-- Idaho's rapid growth has slowed. Forest products, agriculture and technology are showing weaknesses.

-- Nevada's employment is expected to remain close to 5 percent in 1999, though Las Vegas and Reno will grapple with demands of capacity, competition and growth.

-- Northern California will look much as it did in the late 1980s: above average growth in population and employment, rapid escalation of housing prices in many areas and returning growth concerns.

-- Oregon's growth will slow in the technology and construction sectors, with employment growth lowering to 1.5 percent -- compared to 2.4 percent in 1998.

-- With Washington's dependence on trade, the Asian economy will bring a slower 2 percent employment in 1999 -- the state's 17th year of expansion.

Mitchell views the Y2K problem and the introduction of the European common currency, the euro, as unique challenges.

He likened Y2K to a natural disaster: "There will be disruptions, but no one knows how serious they will be."

Despite his caution, Mitchell tried to remain optimistic.

"There's another recession someplace," he said. "But we haven't seen it yet."